September 30, 2012

Tour Kuwait in One Day

Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders Visiting Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Since we love Kuwait we decided to do a series of posts for touring Kuwait in one, two or three days.  This might come in handy for business travelers, expats or even locals that haven't seen all of the cultural sites of Kuwait.

We have been working on this three part series all summer and finally finished touring all the most famous and some unknown places in Kuwait. What we learned from this was that Kuwait is a beautiful country with plenty to do and see if you keep an open mind.
 
To check out our Tour Kuwait in Two Days click [here] and Three Days [here].

All writing and photographs (unless specified) are by Expat and the City. Please email us at: expatandthecity@gmail.com if  you would like to re-post.
 

Morning: If you are not having breakfast at your hotel I suggest you start off your trip with a Kuwaiti taste by trying Café Bazza, a modern café with a Kuwaiti twist. There are 5 branches of this café, and the ideal one to discover Kuwait is the one overlooking the Arabian Gulf Street. It is located in Bnaid Al-Gar area opposite T.G.I.Friday's. You can sit there and enjoy a lovely view of the Arabian Gulf across the street.


This café serves Kuwaiti food, beverages, and sweets. What better way to start the day than to taste the food of the locals. In the breakfast section, you will notice that breakfast dishes are named after the old areas of Kuwait, like Fintas, Dasman, and Sharq, etc. Once you select your dishes, a flood of Kuwaiti food items rain on your table. Some of the items provided are labnah, beans, scrabbled eggs, kidneys, fresh bread from the eastern oven, cheese, or Kuwaiti pastries. Omelet or Balaleet are available as well. The latter is a Kuwaiti saffron flavored noodles with eggs. 


After your breakfast, drive to the Arabian Gulf Road to see the magnificent Kuwait Towers, the country's iconic landmark, located in ras Al-Ajouza in Dasman. It was built in the late 70s and was designed by the Swedish Architect Sune Lindström. The towers are utilized as a tourist attraction and water reservoirs. The towers include a restaurant, café, and a revolving deck for a magnificent view of Kuwait City.

 
However, we found out when we went there early May 2012 that the towers were closed for renovation. We were told by the security that it will open within a few months but the local papers are saying a year or more. Nevertheless, one cannot pass the opportunity of being in Kuwait without taking a picture of this beautiful landmark. Let's hope it opens very soon so you can go inside and have one of the most spectacular views of Kuwait.  If you are ready for your second cup of tea or coffee you should tell the ticket agent you are going up to the Kuwaiti Tower's cafe. There you can sit and enjoy a stunning view of Kuwait while you sip your drink away.


Next, get back to Arabian Gulf Road and head north (Keep the Towers on your right) and go to the Maritime Museum in Sharq. You will find it on your left and Souk Sharq on your right. The museum is located in the old Sharqiya School for Boys. The museum opened in 2010 to preserve the heritage of Kuwait. In a pre-oil era, Kuwait's economy was based on seafaring and pearl diving, which is manifested in this amazing museum. On the outside, you will find 3 large wooden dhows to preserve the maritime tradition of Kuwait. Inside the museum, you will find the tools used to build these ships, parts of ships, different models of these ships (each ship has its name and purpose), old pictures and maps of Kuwait, documents, diaries of some Kuwaiti ship captains (or Nokhitha in Kuwaiti Arabic), and many more. For a better understanding of the heritage of Kuwait, a visit to the Maritime museum is a must see.



As you leave the Maritime Museum, you'll notice a building on the right side. It is the Modern Art Museum. Similarly, this museum is located in the other Sharqiya School, which houses this museum. The school, established in 1939, turned into a museum in 2003 to preserve the historic schools in Kuwait and to house local, regional, and international art. The museum, which preserves the classrooms, includes photographs of the students and teachers in the late 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and showcases paintings, sculptures, and crafts.

 
 

 
 You will come across a small house adjacent to this museum. It is called Bait Gaith and it was preserved to help educate about the pre-oil architecture of Kuwait. What made this house famous was the sea rocks used. The house was renovated in 2006 and became a monument of a bygone era.


Next, head back to the Arabian Gulf Street and take a U-Turn (Souk Sharq should then be on your right and the museums on your left) and head to the Grand Mosque, Kuwait's biggest mosque. It may not be as old as some of the mosques in Kuwait, since most mosques all over Arabian Gulf Street are 150-200 and even 300 years old, while the Grand Mosque is only 26 years old. Yet, it is famous for its Andalusian architecture and for Ramadan prayers. Visits can be arranged to tour the mosque.

 

 
The Grand Mosque at night [Photo Credit: AWARE Center Tours]
 
For lunch, head to Madheena, a Kuwaiti restaurant located in Jassem Tower, Floor 28. The tower overlooks the Musical Fountains on the Soor Street in Al-Murghab area. The restaurant overlooks Kuwait City and the residential areas and offers some mouthwatering authentic Kuwaiti, Moroccan and international, dishes in a modern ambiance. Famous Kuwaiti dishes are Mawish (rice and lentil with either dry or fried shrimp with tamarin sauce), Machboos (rice cooked with either with lamb or chicken), mutabag hamoor (rice with fish), and biryani, which is proudly borrowed from India. Trying Kuwaiti cuisine on an empty stomach is a mandatory. Plus, they are generous with the portions, so put some stretch pants for maximum benefit :p



Next, we recommend you continue driving all along Soor Street to view the remaining 5 gates of the Wall of Kuwait. The Wall was originally built in December of 1789 to fend off strike of tribes from the neighboring nations. It was renovated in 1814, and built again in 1920 to ward off the Saudi / Wahabi invaders. In 1957, the wall was demolished to give Kuwait City a major face lift and to allow cars to access the city with ease. The remaining gates are the only parts left of this historic wall that saved the city for centuries. There are 5 different shaped gates, which can be seen all along Soor Street. These walls are one of the most famous landmarks of Kuwait.


Google Images has a much clearer picture of the wall.

If you are into ancient landmarks that stand the test of time, then head to Souk Al-Mubarakiya downtown to experience the the old Kuwaiti market. Built during the reign of Mubarak Al-Sabah (1896-1915) and named after him, Souk Al-Mubarakiya is one of the most traditional spots in Kuwait. You will wander in endless shops that sell Arabic perfumes, local dress, gold jewelry, incenses, dates, sweets, fish, fruits/vegetables, meat, and among other things.  Don't miss the Gold Souk which offers Middle Eastern, Indian and Italian style designs.



In addition, there are various restaurants that serve Kuwaiti, Iranian, Egyptian and Lebanese/Syrian food in the restaurant corner. Charcoal tea and coffee are served there as well.


Within Souk Al-Mubarakiya, you will come across this kiosk. This kiosk, belonged to Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, was established in 1897 and it was where the Sheikh used to meet the Kuwaiti people and discuss with them the matters of the country. Throughout the years, the Mubarak kiosk was used as a court, a postal office, a pharmacy, a pearl diving affairs office, a real estate records office and a library. Nowadays, it is utilized as a museum and exhibit the items of the pharmacy (ground floor), court, postal office, and Sheikh Mubarak documents and letters (top floor).

Kiosk
 
Pharmacy
 
 
The top floor
 
As you leave the Souk heading towards the gold market, you will see the Mubarakiya School, also named after Sheikh Mubarak. It is the first school in Kuwait and was built in 1911. Before that, Kuwaitis used to obtain their education in mosques learning Arabic, Quran recitation and simple math. The school was open from 1911 until 1985, when it functioned as the state's central library. In early 2012, the school became home of the History of Education Museum. The museum has 4 showrooms that play documentaries about the history of education, the school, sports activities, and the Kuwaiti men and women who contributed to education in Kuwait. The museum displays the original school reports, championship cups, medals, books that were used back then. Also, the museum honors the Kuwaiti merchants who donated for the establishment of the school and its first faculty.

 
 
 
If you have spent hours wandering around Souk Al-Mubarakiya you might want to eat dinner,  It is advisable to head to the seafood haven called the Fish Market, which is located in the restaurant complex next to Kuwait Towers. This fine restaurant serves different types of Kuwaiti fish, shrimp, and crabs. It also serves squids, mud crab, Boston and Australian lobsters. For your order, you can choose the spices (we suggest Kuwaiti / Arabic), sauces and how you would like it cooked.
 
The Fish Market
 
My dinner <3
 
After dinner if you still have the energy you might want to walk along the Arabian Gulf and people watch.  After some time you can sit in any cafe and enjoy the culture and ambiance.
 
This concludes our suggestions for touring Kuwait in one day.  If you have more than one day to see Kuwait then come back soon because we will be posting day two next. 
 
 

September 29, 2012

Copenhagen, Denmark Eid Vacation in Pictures

The Palace Hotel in Copenhagen
 
There was a mirror on the ceiling (Just Kidding!) ;p
 
Hotel room trash can is totally GREEN
 
Famous former guests at my hotel
 
Copenhagen's main sites are very easy to see because almost every touristic site is close together. Hand model: Danish Sugar Daddy :P (Kidding!)

 
Loved my trip, saw one of my besties and met her lovely friends. Copenhagen is beautiful and the people are very friendly.  Just make sure you plan your trip ahead of time so you can make dinner reservations at least 2 - 3 months in advance.
 
The Little Mermaid <3 Read about it [here]
 
It took me two visits and Instagram editing out all the tourists to get a good shot.
 
Strøget window shopping with a slight Danish beer / coffee buzz
 
 
 
 
Danish beef steak with egg yolk, beetroot and onion
 
Wine then a nice Danish style cappuccino
 
Lovely Danish desserts and pastries but nothing beats the South.
 
Gift for H <3 Georg Jensen jewelry
 
Nyhavn (New Harbor): 18th-century houses and restaurants overlooking the beautiful canal.
 
 
The famous Gefion
 
Hey there tiny Viking dude...
 
Peruvian band (yeah, they're still around Europe)
 
 
iPhone 4s snaps while high on Danish pastries & coffee.  I might have been tipsy one or two times..;)